Simply put, probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts that exist within your body. Probiotics are good for your health because they combat against bad bacteria that enters your system.
Your body will always house both good and bad bacteria. There is where probiotics are beneficial: They ensure the balance between them in your body.
Each person has a microbiome which is home to an abundance of microbes and everyone’s microbiomes are different. The microbes that make it up include bacteria, yeasts, viruses and protozoa.
So, you may be wondering how your microbiome works – well, think of how diverse a forest is and how all of its parts work together to keep the forest alive.
This concept is similar to your body’s microbiome. If you have a microbe in your system that is a probiotic, it must have positive characteristics – these include being beneficial to your body, surviving after ingestion in your intestine and being consumed safely.
Your large intestines is the place where probiotics most commonly live. However, probiotics also locate in your mouth, urinary tract, skin, lungs and more.
What Do Probiotics Do for Your Body?
Feeling sick is, most of the times, synonym of bad bacteria increasing in your body.
Probiotics are the good bacteria within your body. They have an important job to do: Maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria within your body.
Probiotics support immune function, control inflammation, assist in digesting food, create vitamins, support the cells lining your gut, absorb medications, prevent diarrhea and constipation, aid irritable bowel syndrome, prevent ulcerative colitis, can treat Crohn’s disease, vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, eczema and more.
What you may not realize is that probiotics are working constantly in your microbiome to keep your body working smoothly.
While many people take probiotic supplements for health benefits, you can also maintain a good number of probiotics by eating a diet that’s rich in fiber.
The most common types of probiotics that you can purchase include lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. When looking at probiotics that are yeast, the most common type is saccharomyces boulardii.
Good news if you’re wanting to increase the number of probiotics in your body, you can by consuming them through supplements, foods and drinks.
Yogurt is a widely popular source of probiotics. That is the reason why TV commercials promotes its consumption for the promotion of good gut health.
People who are taking antibiotics might eat probiotic-rich foods like yogurt to help eliminate the bad bacteria in their body while also getting rid of their infection.
Another good source of probiotics is kombucha. It’s nothing but fermented tea, and this is something that is quickly gaining popularity.
Some other probiotic rich foods include:
- Sourdough bread
- Cottage cheese
- Miso soup
- Kimchi and more.
If you don’t want to eat or drink probiotics, you can also find them in dietary supplements.
When taking probiotic supplements, you should remember that the benefits are strictly based on the strain and you don’t want to mix up probiotics with prebiotics. (Prebiotics are also important, but they are types of fiber that feed bacteria living in your colon)
Probiotic strains that have been proven to provide health benefits include Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces.
If you’re taking a probiotic supplement, you’re likely getting a combination of different strains. Depending on what you’re taking the probiotic for, some strains are more effective than others.
One of the most common uses of probiotics is to help with constipation or diarrhea – two very different conditions.
Probiotics for Constipation
Historically, people would rely on laxatives and stool softeners to help them with constipation however, research in recent years has led to the popular use of probiotics as an alternative approach.
Constipation results in difficult bowel movements that are infrequent and hard.
Most people will experience constipation in their lives but for some, it can be a chronic problem and people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome can also experience constipation regularly.
Probiotics is another tool added to the toolbox for the prevention and treatment of constipation. If you’ve never tried this for your constipation before, you will want to consult with your naturopath.
Probiotics for Diarrhea and Antibiotics
Like constipation, most people will encounter diarrhea but for some, it can be chronic and frequent. If you’re suffering from food poisoning or the flu, probiotics can help!
If you’re in the early stages of your flu-related illness or you’ve eaten something to upset your stomach, eat probiotics to reduce the risk of experiencing diarrhea.
It’s also important to note that taking antibiotics usually causes diarrhea – and this is why antibiotics and probiotics go hand in hand.
Antibiotics are taken to kill harmful bacteria in your microbiome which are responsible for your infection but, antibiotics will destroy the good bacteria as well.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, probiotics are good bacteria so when your body loses good bacteria as a result of taking antibiotics, take some probiotics to help get everything back to normal.
Probiotic supplements are great at reducing the risk of antibiotic related diarrhea. Probiotics are also known to reduce belching and bloating.
Promoting Overall Health
Probiotics are great at combatting diseases and treating conditions, but you should also be taking them to promote your overall health.
Common uses for probiotics include reducing the look of aging, reducing inflammation and keeping your stomach looking and feeling good.
Probiotics provide a variety of benefits as long as you’re following other health practices such as consuming a healthy diet, and practicing physical activity.
Having a happy microbiome translates to having a happy you.
Do some research, talk to your personal health care experts and find what probiotics are best for you.
Whether you’re wanting to target and treat specific health conditions, or you just want to increase your overall health, probiotics can and will provide you with a better quality of life.